Mixed reactions greet EC’s decision to compile new voters register
The decision by the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new voters register for the 2020 general elections has been met with mixed reactions from the two major political parties.
While the National Democratic Congress (NDC) described the decision by the EC as “a false representation” of discussions at the Inter-party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting of Wednesday, March 27, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) considers the commission’s decision as a reflection of the discussions at the meeting.
The reactions come barely a day after the Chairman of the EC, Mrs Jean Mensa, in a five-point communiqué, announced that the current voters register would be replaced by a new one ahead of the 2020 elections.
Among other things, the release by the EC indicated that there would be a limited registration of new voters prior to the District Level Elections and a Referendum in May, 2019 in all district offices of the commission across the country.
The commission said the referendum would seek to amend Article 55 (3) of the Constitution to enable Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) to be elected on partisan basis.
However, speaking to the Daily Graphic yesterday, the National Communication Officer of the NDC, Mr Sammy Gyamfi, said the impression being created by the EC that participants in the IPAC meeting agreed on the compilation of a new register was not the case.
“Our position is that the press release issued by the EC is full of inaccuracies and never a reflection of what transpired at the IPAC meeting.
The point about the compilation of a new voters register was not even part of the agenda for the day so we dissociate ourselves from that press statement,” he said.
He stressed that the idea of compiling a new voters register for the 2020 elections was out of place because it was not only a departure from the norm over the years but also a drain on the national coffers.
“Over the years, the voters register has always been compiled every 10 years, especially after a national population census when the population dynamics would have changed. The last compilation was done in 2011- 2012, so the E.C should tell us what is wrong with this current register that it has to be changed without wider consultation,” he stressed.
Mr Gyamfi further argued that the decision by the EC to conduct the limited registration exercise for the District Assembly Elections at the district offices of the commission rather than the electoral areas as had been the practice was problematic.
He said that decision would disenfranchise many citizens who would have to travel long distances and go through a lot of stress to participate in the exercise.
“We suggested that the EC should seek more funding to decentralise the limited registration exercise so we do not know why the EC is bent on carrying out the exercise at the district level,” he said.
He called on the EC to be fair in its activities and processes so as not to be seen to be bias.
In a sharp contradiction to the position held by the NDC, the Director of Research and Elections of the NPP, Mr Evans Nimako, said the NPP was good to go with the announcements made by the EC.
When asked if the party had any problem with the five-point communiqué issued by the EC, he said “if the EC said something contrary to what was discussed at IPAC, we would have expressed our reservations.”
He added that the press release by the EC was a true reflection of the discussions at the IPAC meeting so the NPP had no qualms about the commission’s move to carry through its mandate.
Mr Nimako observed that the NPP was focused on putting its house in order to ensure that its activities aligned with the time table that had been outlined by the EC.
“We cannot tell the EC what to do so they informed us about the compilation of a new voters register and we accepted it,” he said.
GCPP settles it
Meanwhile, the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) said the announcement of the compilation of a new register was not a unanimous decision taken at the IPAC meeting.
The First National Vice Chairman of the party, Mr John Amekah, told the Daily Graphic that the announcement was solely the decision by the EC which had the mandate to do so.
“I represented my party at that meeting and it was during discussions on the limited registration exercise that I personally asked a question on whether there will be a new register because of the cost involved and the EC responded that there will be a new register,” he explained.
He said although the GCPP was not against the compilation of a new register, there was the need for wider stakeholder consultation to resolve any outstanding issues in the interest of fairness to all parties.
The EC issued a press release on Wednesday, March 27, outlining a number of decisions that had been arrived at after an IPAC meeting held that day.
In the statement, the EC announced that a new register would be compiled for the conduct of the 2020 elections.
The statement from the EC also said a time table and road map for the District Level Election, the Referendum and other activities for the year would be published in the first week of April, 2019.
It said, among other agreements with stakeholders at the meeting, that the District Level Elections and the Referendum would be conducted on the same day during the last quarter of 2019.
The commission also said a comprehensive report on the findings of its ongoing inspection of offices of political parties would be made available to stakeholders by the end of May, 2019.